SHARON STARCHASER’S INTERGALACTIC QUEST FOR MISSION SUCCESS
Imagine a parallel universe. In one of its galaxies lives an accomplished and caring leader. His name is Sir Daniel Manchester. Everyone calls him Dan Man for short. Dan Man works hard to make a difference on his planet, Mirth. As a result of his accomplishments, he recently earned a most influential position, Mirth’s Supreme Commander of Peace. He now presides over the entire Department of Peace (DoP) enterprise, and his office is housed in a large eight-sided satellite spaceship called The Octagon, which orbits Mirth’s atmosphere.
One morning, Dan Man arrives at The Octagon with his head hanging low, having spent his commute reflecting on how much chaos there is within the DoP community. Various departments aren’t getting along, nor are they aligned with the DoP vision. Mistakes are happening all around, and some of them are even life-threatening, such as quality control problems with armored space vehicles that are being manufactured to protect troops who travel into deep space on top secret DoP assignments. Dan Man doesn’t have information to make decisions that could result in improved enterprise performance or in better conditions for his people. But, he realizes that if the DoP’s people could be more satisfied and if enterprise performance could turn around, it would be good for peace, and peace equals 100 percent mission success. But, before Dan Man can turn things around, he needs a better read on the situation. So, he calls on Deputy Sharon Starchaser and asks if she can help discover how the enterprise is performing.
Sharon Seeks to Measure Total Mission Performance
The first person Sharon consults is Mortimer Jones, an expert who provides metrics support to the DoP. Unbeknownst to Sharon, Mortimer has lost interest in measuring performance. His passion is gone. Over the years, he has encountered so much resistance to his ideas that he simply wants to hang on to his job until he turns one hundred (the average lifespan on Mirth is 150) and can comfortably retire.
When Sharon approaches Mortimer, he assures her that he can help. However, he says he will need about a week to do some analyses and pull some charts together. Sharon thinks that seems like a long time. Shouldn’t Mortimer have current information about people, processes, and budgets ready at a moment’s notice? She needs information now but thinks Mortimer’s charts might be worth the wait. So, she leaves Mortimer’s office and sends Dan Man a t-mail (telepathic mail used by high-ranking officials with special brain implants) saying the reports will be done in a week.
A week later, Sharon and Mortimer meet to review the information. He has no evidence whatsoever on what the people of Mirth (the DoP’s ultimate customers) think about the DoP’s performance. There isn’t any information on the millions of DoP employees. Are they satisfied? How are they performing? Do they have unmet needs? Mortimer’s information isn’t balanced or complete. Sharon has no more sense of how healthy the DoP is now than she did before meeting with Mortimer. So, she sends Dan Man a t-mail asking for more time. Dan Man reminds her that his problem is urgent.
Sharon Escalates Her Search for a Solution to Her Problem
Even though Sharon knows Mortimer is viewed as an expert, she has some doubts about him at this point and decides to call upon Dr. Al Powers for advice. Dr. Al is a leadership guru who does a lot of work with the DoP, but he is usually on travel helping other less-developed planets. When Sharon reaches Dr. Al, she explains that after meeting with Mortimer she realizes the DoP does not have a comprehensive scorecard for leaders. They simply have a smorgasbord of anecdotes, presentations, tables, and charts that can’t help Dan Man, her, or other leaders make sound decisions to improve the DoP or its people’s well-being.
Sharon talks with Dr. Al at length about her commitment to this important assignment and to helping improve the DoP’s performance. Dr. Al asks, “What do you want? How will you know when you have it? And, what are you willing to think, say, and do to get it? Will you start answering those questions in as much detail as you can, Sharon?” Sharon agrees, and Dr. Al tells her he can be at The Octagon in two days, as soon as he returns from travel. Sharon sends Dan Man and Mortimer a t-mail to schedule the meeting with Dr. Al. But, Mortimer feels threatened when he receives Sharon’s message. Dr. Al anticipates this and contacts Mortimer to schedule a private conversation.
Open, Honest, and Direct Communication to the Rescue
Two days later, Dr. Al meets with Mortimer in private. Within minutes, Dr. Al is clear about Mortimer’s pain and offers these words, “Mortimer, you are holding on to negative stories from your past when you proposed good ideas and they were dismissed. You gave up on yourself and became a victim. But, you can choose to believe in yourself again, reassert your power, and be the contributor you want to be. Dan Man and Sharon need your assistance. I know you can help solve their problem.”
Later that day, Dr. Al arrives at Dan Man’s office for the meeting. Mortimer is nowhere to be seen, but Dr. Al believes in managing all agreements, especially when it comes to time. So, he lays out his things, and they begin. Sharon and Dan Man ask Dr. Al how to get started. Dr. Al illustrates with some questions. He asks, “Dan Man, as Mirth’s Supreme Commander of Peace, what do you want?” Dan Man replies, “I want Peace on Mirth.” “What do you mean by that?” Dr. Al inquires. “I mean I want there to be no wars on Mirth,” says Dan Man. Again, Dr. Al asks, “What do you mean by that?” Dan Man says, “I want there to be no wars among nations on Mirth, and no wars between Mirth and other planets.” “So, you want peace on Mirth, and peace means the absence of war?” “Well, yes, but that’s not all.” “What else do you want?” Dan Man asserts, “I want citizens of Mirth and all employees of the DoP to feel they have high quality of life and the opportunity to reach their full potential.” “What do you mean by . . . ?”
Energy Makes Things Better!
Suddenly, Mortimer bursts into the room with a flurry of enthusiasm and excitement and says, “I acknowledge that I’m late! But, I’m here to tell you I won’t rest until together we improve the DoP! I confess I’ve been coasting for a while now, but an honest friend helped me see how much renewed joy there can be in my life if I choose to experience it, make a difference, and be part of something bigger than myself. So let’s get started!”
Yes, Mortimer is energized! And so the dialogue continues, with Mortimer and Dr. Al asking deeper and deeper questions about what Dan Man, Sharon, and the leadership team want to create and what they really mean by “Peace on Mirth.” Once Dan Man and Sharon became clear about their priorities, Mortimer guides them toward measuring what they want and building a scorecard for leadership decision making that aligns with total mission success.
Great Things for Leaders to Know Regarding Their People
With respect to employee performance, the DoP’s new metrics include answering the following questions openly, honestly, and directly. How are we doing with respect to the following:
- Hiring superstars who are a great fit?
- Onboarding people so they feel welcome?
- Helping people build strong commitments to the mission?
- Understanding and improving relationships within the DoP?
- Boosting motivation for everybody across the DOP enterprise?
- Making value alignment a priority throughout our organization?
- Exercising fairness and justice with everybody in the enterprise?
- Attending to our people’s health, happiness, and well-being?
With these questions being asked and answered on a regular basis by leadership, sound decisions are made to improve the condition of the human element within the DoP. Actions are taken to fix problems and to seize opportunities. One long-term outcome is peace on Mirth. Dan Man receives the Intergalactic Peace Prize. Peace eventually breaks out all over the universe, and everyone lives happily ever after.
We can imagine a parallel universe where enterprises from different planets work together for the greater good of mankind. It may be science fiction, or it may be part of our planet’s evolution. Who can say for sure? Maybe this tale isn’t so far-out after all.